Friday, July 15, 2005

Economists & Weather Forecasters, part II

Meteorologists must have a good work life. I know a little about it, since being a pilot requires a good bit of that, physics, and a healthy smattering of several other subjects. Not to say I'm an expert, by any stretch of the imagination. Still, it must be a lot like being an economist. Getting a forecast wrong, even extremely wrong, is commonplace. And I understand why: there are simply too many factors for even a specialized computer to accurately and routinely predict.

But I maintain that the meteorologist still has it easy. Get a prediction wrong, and life goes on. We got a foot of snow instead of a quarter inch of rain? Chuckle, and explain why the cold front moved farther east than you expected. And then move on to the next prediction. You still get paid for your time and expertise.

The stakes are a bit higher on the pilot's side of the equation. Guess wrong, and you better have good judgement skills. Or you may have to demonstrate superior flight skills to get away with it.

The life of a flight instructor often revolves around weather. You check the forecast and expect a good clear day, so you fill up the schedule. The day doesn't quite go as planned. Students get bumped and cancelled, and there goes your income. They call for clear skies, and you get thunderstorms. If you cancel the flight and the weather stays good, you miss out.

You have to predict the unpredictability.

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